A SENIOR health boss has sought to calm fears about the impending demise of Ealing Hospital, insisting it will be business as usual for the imediate future.
William Lynn, consultant physician and deputy chief executive at Ealing Hospital NHS Trust, said concern is running high in the community since the NHS said it wanted to close Ealing's A&E and services at several west London hospitals.
Mr Lynn said: "It’s going to be quite a long time before there are any changes. What we have had is quite a lot of members of the public being concerned that they can’t come here for treatment at the moment, or that the A & E won’t be open, or that there’s no point in booking for things like babies to be delivered. There’s quite a lot of anxiety."
Mr Lynn said that all of the services that are currently on site are not going to change in the immediate future.
He added: "If, for argument’s sake, these changes were approved tomorrow then it would be at least two to three years before they took effect. What the program has to do first is build up and improve the GP and out of hospital services. This, coupled with the fact that Ealing Council has decided to apply for a judicial review regarding the decision, would end up delaying the process even further.
“We’re not 100 per cent sure what the extent of the changes will be. The hospital is very heartened and pleased with the support that we’ve had from the local community. We understand that change will happen in the health service and we will want to work with health-care organisations in this part of west London.”
Mr Lynn said the trust board’s wanted Ealing to be designated as a major hospital: “Obviously we are disappointed that it wasn’t.
“But we are also aware as a board that if the decision to reorganise health-care has been taken, and if it has been put to a public consultation and passed whatever criteria is necessary then we will work within the health-care system to deliver what is best for the public.”
Mr Lynn said there was also some good news regarding the League of Friends Cafe, a charity cafe which has served patients, staff and visitors since the hospital was built.
There were concerns that the site was in danger of being replaced with a private company but Mr Lynn said the cafe has now been granted a reprieve.
"The hospital has to look at how we are using our space most effectively within the hospital building. However, the board, on reviewing the proposal and looking at concerns raised by the staff and the Friends themselves, we felt that it was appropriate to stop the process and we aim to enter into constructive dialogue with the Friends over the next few months.”
"The board is very grateful for what the Friends have done for the hospital over the years and we want to work towards a solution that everyone is happy with."